By Tata Mbunwe
James Duddridge, the Minister for Africa at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has said violence in the Anglophone Crisis must end urgently and investigations be conducted to hold perpetrators accountable.
The UK Minister for Africa said his “Government is deeply concerned about the situation in the North-West and South-West (Anglophone) regions of Cameroon,” and that the crisis is having “tragic impacts on civilians.”
He blamed both the Cameroon military and separatist fighters for abuses being meted on civilians, calling for a stop to violence on civilians.
“… the violence must end and urgent, impartial investigations must hold the perpetrators to account. We continue to urge the Government of Cameroon to engage fully with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to ensure the protection and promotion of human rights for all,” Duddridge wrote in his address to Rt Hon ED Davey, MP House of Commons.
Minister Duddridge says he was in Cameroon in March this year during which he chatted with President Paul Biya, PM Joseph Dion Ngute and Foreign Affairs Minister, Lejeune Mbella, about UK’s commitment to supporting a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
He disclosed he also met with the President of South West Regional Assembly, Zacheus Bakoma, alongside civil society organisations, political opposition leaders and religious leaders to learn more about the crisis on the ground.
“… the UK Government continues to call for inclusive dialogue that addresses the root causes of the crisis. We have shared our experience of conflict resolution, and we call on all parties to remain engaged in Swiss-led efforts to facilitate talks,” he said.
Britain administered the English-speaking North West and South West regions of Cameroon between 1916 and 1961, following a partition of the then German Kamerun between Britain and France after the First World War.
British and French administration of Cameroon gave birth to two linguistic, cultural and judicial systems with the English-speaking regions being a significant minority.
Conflict broke out in November 2016 as the two regions felt marginalized in the educational and judicial systems, resulting in greater quest for autonomy.
Considering Britain’s historical links with Cameroon, the UK Government has often been criticized by separatists in the English-speaking regions for neglecting her former colony amid the ravaging Anglophone Crisis.
However, the British Government says it has contributed hundreds of millions of Francs to humanitarian needs in the English-speaking regions, amounting to at least £13.5 million, equivalent to FCFA 8.8 billion.